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Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

closeup of young woman

What is it?

This disorder has also been nicknamed ‘Imagined Ugliness Syndrome’ as sufferers of the condition have an irrational preoccupation with a perceived body defect, either present in themselves or in others; the latter being dysmorphophobia by proxy.

BDD sufferers cannot accept that their fears of their perceived body defect are out of all proportion, and frequently seek plastic surgery or other measures in an attempt to rectify the perceived problem.

DIY self diagnosis

If you can answer YES to most of the questions it is likely that you are affected by BDD.

Over the past 6 months:

  • Have you felt disgusted by a particular aspect of your body?
  • Did you feel that a part of your body is abnormal?
  • Did you spend a lot of time examining/scrutinising your appearance?
  • Did you avoid looking at yourself in mirrors, windows etc.?
  • Did you feel that other people are looking at your appearance or are disgusted by it?

Anxiety UK strongly advises that people seek further information and guidance from their GP who will be able to make a formal diagnosis.

BDD fact sheet

How we can help

Anxiety UK is a user-led charity with more than forty years experience in supporting those living with anxiety. By becoming a member of Anxiety UK, you will have access to a range of benefits, including:

  • Access to reduced cost therapy within two weeks of submitting your therapy request
  • Free access to Headspace, worth £95
  • Access to our infoline, email, text and live chat services (available Monday-Friday, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm) staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety
  • Receipt of four issues of Anxious Times, our quarterly members’ magazine
  • Access to the members only section of our website, featuring regular support surgeries facilitated by anxiety experts
  • Access to specialist helplines, including the psychiatric pharmacy helpline

And many, many other benefits that will help you manage your anxiety long term. To become a member of Anxiety UK click here or ring 08444 775 774 today.

Recommended resources

overcoming body image problems

Overcoming Body Image Problems is a self help book based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You can purchase it online in the Anxiety UK shop by clicking here.

The following websites may also be of use to those affected by BDD:

Personal experience

Do you suffer from BDD and want to share your experience with other people? Post your personal experience in the comments box below where it will be sent to our moderator for approval. Many people find this part of the site very useful when trying to understand their disorder so your comments really do make a difference. Please note, all comments submitted to the Anxiety UK website may be used by Anxiety UK for (but not limited to) publicity and promotional material.

As far as I can remember I have always been conscious of my blemishes and scars; hiding my face behind makeup and shunning away from bright lighting.

I never let anyone see me without makeup because I feel naked without it. I feel that I am ugly and people will judge me. I have always heard comments that people find me pretty, but they see me behind the ‘mask’. This obsession rules my life. I can’t be seen without makeup; I can’t go underwater when I swim. My fear would be to have to remove my makeup in public. If I am having a very bad blemish day, sometimes it will prevent me from going out, especially in daylight. I feel stupid and I know to family and friends it sounds absurd, but they just don’t understand me. I feel alone in the way I’m feeling, but I’m sure other people are suffering to. I always believe if I could get rid of this problem my life would be so much happier and easier. It is my plight. I am even thinking of laser surgery, but am too scared to show my face to the surgeon and I am also worried about having to leave the hospital with no makeup. I’m lost.

Lara